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After anti-government rally, Lebanon parliament chief promises talks on political gridlock

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BEIRUT — Lebanon's parliament speaker has promised high-level talks to find a way out of long-running political gridlock that sparked large anti-government protests, including this weekend.

Speaker Nabih Berri told supporters Sunday that change should come from within the system, rebuffing calls by protesters for the resignation of the Cabinet or individual ministers.

PHOTO: Lebanese anti-government protesters react during a demonstration against the on-going trash crisis and government corruption, in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. Thousands of people began gathering Saturday amid tight security in downtown Beirut, ahead of a major rally to protest government corruption and the country's dysfunctional political system. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Lebanese anti-government protesters react during a demonstration against the on-going trash crisis and government corruption, in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. Thousands of people began gathering Saturday amid tight security in downtown Beirut, ahead of a major rally to protest government corruption and the country's dysfunctional political system. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

The rallies were sparked by a summer trash crisis, with garbage piling up in Beirut after the government closed a main landfill without having prepared an alternative.

Underlying the protesters' mounting frustration is Lebanon's dysfunctional political system, based on sectarianism and patronage. Political deadlock has prevented timely elections for parliament and a president.

Berri called on the prime minister and the heads of parliament factions to meet in early September to chart a path toward holding elections.

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